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Kevin Jiggetts is hard pressed for some digits. The 36-year-old actor-director, who grew up in Southeast, is desperately seeking funding for his first movie, Grounds for Divorce. The film’s budget—$100,000—is a pittance compared with the cost of mainstream flicks, but Jiggetts admits that he is far from even that figure. Which could be a bit of a problem, considering that he expects to begin shooting the film next March. Jiggets is counting on some tax-deductible donations and possibly some grant money, and also hoping that maybe Miramax or another major film company will pick up the slack but leave him with the control he believes he deserves.
The screenplay was rewritten five times. Film companies he approached kept wanting him to change the script, and in the end something always went wrong. During negotiations with one underwriter, “one guy got fired, and that was the end of the movie deal,” Jiggetts recalls. Jiggets had had enough. He decided not to rely on empty promises, to keep creative control, and to take the independent route.
Grounds for Divorce is the story of a divorce lawyer who works for the wives on cases involving domestic violence and large amounts of money. The lawyer falls in love with one of his clients, who brings a past of murder to his front door. Jiggetts, who plays the lead role and is married, says, “I cringed as I was writing some of the scenes, because I hate men who physically abuse their wives.”
But writing about domestic violence wasn’t planned. After the script for his first movie, The Player’s Club (no relation to Ice Cube’s movie), “went nowhere,” he sat down one day in his New York apartment and decided to regroup. After six weeks of routinely rising at 5 a.m. to spend four hours working on the script, he decided to locate it in D.C.
Most of the scenes will be shot here; the actors are from D.C., and the musicians for the soundtrack will be, too—if Jiggetts gets his way. In the past couple of months, he has auditioned actors for 10 principal roles and a supporting cast of 81. He was so pleased with the level of talent that he saw that he plans to select his extras from the pool of people who auditioned in the beginning.
If all goes well, Jiggetts and his cast will shine on the big screen, but until then, he’s keeping busy by adding more credits to his acting bill. He has worked on The Cosby Show, America’s Most Wanted, and Homicide, and is now an extra on an upcoming television show.—Ayesha Morris